Endowments -- Building an Enduring Legacy
For much of its 100 years, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has been fortunate in attracting some of the nation’s top talent as its directors, scientist/curators, educators, and exhibit designers. It is these gifted and passionate individuals who are the Museum's greatest assets, along with its large and unique collections and extraordinary physical setting. These individuals bring to the Museum top level professional skills and experience, vision and creativity, knowledge and wisdom, passion and energy. They are the very essence of the Museum’s excellence and impact.
Estate gifts can be particularly appropriate ways to create permanent named endowments in support of the Museum’s core positions and programs. Such endowments constitute a lasting legacy and ensure that the Museum will continue to be able to attract the very best staff and offer critical services that make a difference.
Endowments may be named to recognize a donor who funds the endowment through an outright gift or through an estate gift. Endowments may also be named to honor or remember a loved family member, friend, or mentor. Gifts to the endowment of any size are appreciated.
How Endowments Work
Endowments are funds given by donors with the intention of providing permanent and reliable support for a designated purpose. The funds are invested as part of the Museum’s aggregate endowment portfolio in such a way that income is drawn from the fund annually for the support of the designated program, while the principal is left untouched. Investment management and the calculations by which income is drawn from endowments are conservative so as to provide stable support for designated programs in the face of inevitable fluctuations of financial markets and to protect the value of the endowment fund from the erosive forces of inflation.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has a sterling history of managing its endowments. The Museum’s investments are overseen by the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee, composed of experienced investment professionals, and managed by carefully selected and supervised outside investment management firms.
Endowments represent the most fundamental element for ensuring the Museum’s long term financial health and stability and its ability to always attract top level staff and mount programs that deliver the best service to the community. Endowments are the single most effective way for donors passionate about nature, science, the environment, education, and the quality of our community to leave an eternally lasting legacy.
Opportunities to Endow Key Positions:
President/CEO (endowment sought: $2.5 million):
Many of the Museum’s past executives have come to Santa Barbara from leadership positions at prestigious institutions elsewhere and have played leadership roles on the national level. Luke Swetland, the current President/CEO of the Museum of Natural History, has previously served at the Autry National Center of the American West, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. He is a member of the American Alliance of Museums and serves on the board of the California Association of Museums.
Curator of Anthropology (endowment sought: $1.5 million):
Specialty in archaeology, ethnography, or ethnohistory.
Since its very beginning, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has been a leader in research on the prehistoric and historic Native cultures of our region, making the Museum into the key repository of our region’s Native heritage. Over the decades, the curatorship of anthropology has been held by renowned scholars, among them David Banks Rogers, Phil C. Orr, and Travis Hudson. The current Curator of Anthropology, Dr. John Johnson, has gained national and international acclaim through his pioneering research in archaeology, ethnohistory, and the DNA history of Native peoples of southern California. Dr. Jan Timbrook has established herself as a widely recognized scholar on the Native knowledge and use of plants and animals and as a superb expert on Native basketry.
Curator of Vertebrate Zoology (endowment sought: $1.5 million):
Specialty in birds, mammals, or reptiles.
Older Santa Barbarans remember with fondness the exceptionally gifted and passionate Waldo Abbott, a legendary naturalist, and the remarkable Dr. Charles D. Woodhouse who pursued whale research and helped to found the national whale stranding network. Paul Collins, the current Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, follows in the footsteps of these great predecessors with nearly encyclopedic knowledge of local natural history and conducts research on birds, bats, amphibians, ecology, and environmental restoration. State and federal agencies, local environmental organizations and individuals rely on Paul’s research and expertise in managing our local natural resources. Paul’s depth of knowledge as a scientist is matched by his passion and skill as a teacher and communicator about science and the environment. Dr. Krista Fahy pursues important research on birds and the conservation of avian populations; Michelle Berman, M.S., manages the Museum’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network program and published critical insights based on data drawn from stranded cetaceans.
Curator of Invertebrate Zoology (Endowment sought: $1.5 million)
Much of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s great international reputation as a scientific institution is based on its vast collection of marine invertebrates (mollusks and other taxa of marine organisms) and superb staff of scientists conducting research in this field. The Museum’s acknowledged strength in invertebrate marine biology was advanced significantly by the hiring of the renowned scientist and artist Dr. F.G. (Eric) Hochberg in 1973. After Hochberg’s retirement in 2012, he was succeeded by Dr. Daniel Geiger, a prolific researcher and writer. Daniel and other scientists in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology enhance our knowledge of global biodiversity by discovering, describing, and publishing on dozens of new species every year.
Sea Center Director (endowment sought: $1.5 million):
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Ty Warner Sea Center is a superb place for learning about our all-important marine environments. Its effectiveness is based on a combination of strengths: a stunning location above the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, highly creative exhibit design, a passionate and skilled staff and volunteer corps, and great leadership. The center’s current director, Amanda Allen, combines a degree in business with advanced training in anthropology and marine sciences and embodies the model of a committed, skillful and tireless leader.
Education Director (endowment sought: $1.5 million):
In the 1930s, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was a pioneer in the country by establishing a separate department of education. Many older Santa Barbarans remember with deep affection “Cookie,” the legendary teacher Irma Cook, whose work changed many lives. Today, the extensive programs of the Division of Education are an essential component in our region’s framework for science education and continue to play a central role in the Museum’s mission. These programs are ably led by Heather Moffat, a trained scientist and consummate teacher.
Director of Library and Archives (endowment sought: $1.5 million):
The Library and Archives contain some of the Museum of Natural History’s most important treasures. They range from antiquarian jewels, such as a 15th century Latin text on natural history published in Germany, to archival collections of enormous importance for understanding local Native cultures and environments, among them the Dick Smith Collection, the Channel Islands Collection, the Thomas Dibblee Archives, and others. Museum Librarian Terri Sheridan’s responsibilities include conservation of irreplaceable texts, care for contemporary library holdings, assisting Library and Archives users from Santa Barbara and around the country, and management of digital information resources.
Opportunities to Endow Key Programs:
Teen Education Program: Quasars to Sea Stars: (endowment sought: $1 million)
One of the Museum’s most visionary, effective, and admired programs is its teen education program, Quasars to Sea Stars. Participating teens work in close association with Museum staff and researchers throughout their four high school years, learning the essentials of science, building personal life skills, developing leadership capabilities, and preparing for college. The program has changed many lives profoundly and is admired in the museum community around the country. The program is provided at no cost to the teens and their families, funded through a strenuous annual effort of raising gifts and grants. A named endowment to support the Quasars to Sea Stars program would constitute a visionary and perpetual legacy ensuring not only the life success of individual teens but also the future strength of our community and society.
Scholarship Fund for Science Camps: (endowment sought: undetermined)
One of the Museum’s great strengths is its ability to provide hands-on, experiential education in nature and with real objects. The inquiry based learning offered by the Museum is uniquely powerful and foundational for other learning in schools. Science camps for children ages 2-10 during winter and spring break and during the summer have a profound effect children’s long term educational success. They are particularly important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. An endowment to fund scholarships for children from families of limited means will help to awaken hidden potential, prepare for success in a world of increasing technological demands, and broaden the foundation of scientific literacy throughout our community.
Exhibits That Matter: (endowment sought: undetermined)
Exhibits remain the primary means for connecting the Museum’s visitors with nature and a myriad of important topics and issues in natural science and the environment. Besides an array of beloved “permanent” galleries, a program of regularly changing exhibits provide an opportunity for greatly expanding the subject matter featured in exhibits, bringing to Santa Barbara powerful traveling shows developed by other institutions, ensuring continuing relevance, and offering our visitors constantly new content. An endowment to support the changing exhibits program would support both the in-house development of powerful temporary displays and enable the Museum to bring to Santa Barbara some of the very best shows developed elsewhere in the world.
Butterflies Alive!: (endowment sought: undetermined)
The live butterfly exhibit is one of the Museum of Natural History’s most popular attractions. The enchantment of the butterflies touches every visitor regardless of age, sex, or cultural background. Because of its nearly magical appeal, the butterfly exhibit is also a great teaching tool—about science, the fabulously rich world of insects, and the intricate web and fragility of our ecological systems. Because of its great appeal and impact, the butterfly pavilion’s temporary structure will soon become a permanent feature of the Museum campus. However, while the butterfly show is enormously popular, it is also one of the most expensive exhibits to mount and operate. The demands of intricate landscaping, extensive staffing requirements, and the continuous purchase of butterflies creates a heavy financial burden on the Museum’s annual operating budget. A named fund to support these operating costs would ensure that the magic of this extraordinary display consistently reaches the hearts and minds of children age 1-100.
Leave No Child Inside:
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is uniquely blessed to have a campus situated not in an urban asphalt jungle but in the middle of a gorgeously beautiful natural area that includes a creek and extensive oak woodland. The Museum is taking advantage of this great resource in “The Backyard” by conducting much of its education about nature in nature. There is no better way to kindle a passion for nature, to grow children healthy in body and soul, to stimulate an interest in science, and to make learning fun, than by engaging children in hands-on exploration outdoors. The Leave No Child Inside Endowment will support the continued maintenance and improvement of the Museum’s outdoor education environments and the recruitment and training of staff and volunteers who are capable of helping children and their families to use the outdoor learning opportunities to their fullest potential.
Existing Endowed Positions and Programs:
Schlinger Foundation Chair of Entomology ($1.6 million):
Evert I. Schlinger is passionate about nature and science. A world renowned entomologist, he was a professor of biology at the University of California, at Riverside and Berkeley. Believing ardently in the importance of museums for both research and education, Ev endowed the Schlinger Chair of Entomology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. “Museums are crucial for the future of our scientific enterprise, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is among the best in in the country,” says Ev.
John and Peggy Maximus Endowment for Antique Natural History Art
John and Peggy were both artistically talented individuals: John, a highly respected book illustrator, and Peggy, a gifted interior designer. Wanting to share their passion for both nature and art with others, they funded the creation of a gallery dedicated to antique natural history art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and provided for its continued support. The natural history art program makes our Museum unique and forms a remarkable legacy that will inspire many generations to come. The gallery mounts three exhibits every year, with each show a striking posthumous tribute to the vision and generosity of John and Peggy Maximus.
Thomas Wilson Dibblee Endowment for Earth Sciences ($1.5 million):
Tom was a great-great-grandson of Jose de la Guerra. He grew up on Rancho San Julian near Lompoc and studied geology at Stanford. He was a simple, unaffected man of limited means, but he was a giant in the field of geology. He personally walked nearly every square inch of southern California and accomplished a nearly unimaginable record of geological mapping. In 2001, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History partnered with Tom to publish his extraordinary geological maps, and Tom designated his estate, consisting of his modest home and his life savings, for the support of the map publishing effort and to establish a chair of geology at the Museum. “The Museum means so much to me. This is the happiest day of my life,” said Tom, when his friends gathered to celebrate his gift.
Howard/Berry Chair of Malacology ($1 million):
Malacology, the study of mollusks, is one of the Museum’s major scientific strengths, and part of its worldwide renown. The prominence of the Museum’s vast shell collection and of its scientific research staff is in part based on the support of two eminent shell collectors, Faye B. Howard and Dr. S. Stillman Berry. Howard's support of the Museum collections began in 1960 and continued until her death in 1984. Dr. Berry's collection and research spanned over 70 years, resulting in one of the greatest private collections ever compiled. Both these individuals left as bequests not only their superb private collections but the funds to support the expansion of our Collections and Research Center and to endow a curatorial chair.
Robert Dougan Fund for Innovative Education ($1.2 million):
Robert O. Dougan was a librarian, bibliophile, and scholar of Ireland’s greatest literary treasure, the Book of Kells. After an illustrious career in Scotland and Ireland, including Trinity College in Dublin, he came to California, where he took on the position of Head Librarian at the Huntington Library. Feeling deeply about the importance of education and scholarship, Dougan provided in his estate an endowment fund to the Museum of Natural History to support innovative educational programs.